Re: Questions about the Beowulf movie

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HWAET.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:10 PM
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The original was a lot of fun; this should be as well--Pinter did the screenplay. Though Caine for Olivier and Law for Caine doesn't quite seem like a good trade...


Posted by: larrybob | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:13 PM
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Oftentimes in IMing, if I notice that I have transposed the "h" and the "w" in saying "what", I will go "whole hog" and just write "hwæt".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:13 PM
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Angelina Jolie seems to have this Boris and Natasha thing she does whenver she's cast in a movie that needs a foreign accent. Other than that, Zemeckis seems to have assembled a pretty impressive cast, but that movie looks like bullshit nevertheless. Give me this any day.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:25 PM
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You think you might want a television if I tell you that some people call it the "boob tube?"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:41 PM
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This seemed like a worthy recipient of my attention

I just love this, Ben, and you should trademark it.

Since I'm on dial-up, I don't look at any of these links people provide, but it strikes me that Angelina Jolie as anything purportedly serious is joke. Kind of like Keanu Reeves in something Shakespearean. Entertaining though it is.

What was the question?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:44 PM
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Googling the term suggests that's now a minority usage.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:44 PM
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Others, the "glass teat".

What other kinds of tube are there? What household appliances are the esophagus tube, the leg tube, the armpit tube?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:45 PM
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So they did that weird real/cgi thing (what's the term for that?) for the whole movie? Why? Anyway, it looks horrible.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 1:59 PM
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I note humbly that Tony Leung was once in a movie where he dressed like someone from Miami Vice (the classic "Lat sau san taam"), and that thus, the post is completely pwned.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:07 PM
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Neil Gaiman wrote the screenplay for Beowulf. The movie itself, as opposed to the various snippets online, will screen in 3D.


Posted by: Nick | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:21 PM
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Hey, it's Princess Buttercup playing... well, Princess Buttercup!

Angelina Jolie sounds like she has Liv Tyler's accent in LoTR except that she isn't speaking Elvish. I thought Grendel was a monster and so was his mother and I don't remember all that much of the poem except that I don't think Beowulf was the king (wasn't that Hrothgar?) but basically the guy the king hired to kick Grendel's ass.

Also, my first car was named Grendel.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:32 PM
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11
Neil Gaiman wrote the screenplay for Beowulf.

Oh.

I may have to see this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:36 PM
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Posted by: Nick

All of a sudden I understand LB's objections.

(I realize you've posted here before, but this was the first time I had the vertiginous feeling of, "wait a minute, I didn't write that, why does it have my name?")


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:39 PM
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13: That gives me hope, too.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:40 PM
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So I'm watching the trailer for Dark is Rising and of course it's very much like the Potter story of the boy with hidden powers recruited to battle evil, and I think, "stupid fantasy shit." Someday someone will explain how Rowling made fantasy fun for people who hate it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:42 PM
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16: racism, I gather.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:44 PM
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Probably.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:45 PM
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13, 15: The audience at ComicCon last weekend seemed very excited both about Gaiman himself--there to promote the movies for Stardust and Coraline, as well--and about the screening of the Beowulf trailer in 3D.

14: Better?


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:48 PM
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14: Better?

Thanks. I was mostly kidding but, thanks.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:56 PM
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To become really depressed about The Dark is Rising movie, read this list of differences.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 2:58 PM
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16:FYI, the Cooper books predated Rowling's opera by many years, are better written and far more original. The movie effort to Potterise Will in TDIR is a travesty.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 3:01 PM
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Remember, movies are art, in a sense, but primarily they are backdrops for hott chicks. Failure to realize this fact is a prime cause of stupid movie criticism.

In the same way, architecture would be prettier if it could ignore all the practicalities, but architecture has to be practical. The practicality of movies is attractive ladies, preferably skimpily clad.

The wise eschew movies because of their enticing qualities. (I'm sure that there are female and gay perspectives on this.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 3:09 PM
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OT, speaking of books and book minutia reminds me of the nice turn of phrase in Tycho's most recent comments at Penny Arcade:

When I meet a person who wants to discuss books at length, I'm sure they can sense my desperation. They may even be able to smell it. My first thought is to cripple them, so they can't escape.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 3:09 PM
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I've never watched a movie in 3D. Is it any good? It seems kind of dumb to me.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 3:13 PM
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25: I've seen some ridiculously silly 3D movies--the Michael Jackson short running at DisneyWorld in the '80's, one of the later Jaws installments, etc.--but according to Gaiman and Paramount, 3D technology has really changed over the past few years for the better. FWIW, yes, ComicCon did convince me that Beowulf's screening technology will be impressive.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 3:38 PM
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21: Yes, this does almost entirely depress me. I always expect things to be awful, but this surpasses even my expectations. "Crushingly stupid" is the phrase that comes to mind.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 3:48 PM
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boy with hidden powers recruited to battle evil, and I think, "stupid fantasy shit." Someday someone will explain how Rowling made fantasy fun for people who hate it.

God this is cute. Uh, you don't actually hate fantasy? You actually like the boy with hidden powers narrative.

Well, of course you're not stupid enough to deny this. How Rowling made it acceptable is a good question.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 4:10 PM
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Modern 3D viewing - using polarized glasses instead of colored glasses - is pretty impressive, though it does tend to give you a headache. I watched the current Harry Potter movie at an IMAX with 3D for maybe 20 minutes towards the end, and it was impressive, though less aggressively so than the 3D demo at the beginning.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 4:24 PM
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Stardust has a great cast and director. But...it seems like it's for kids, and I'm not friends with any kids. Should I try to see it?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 4:29 PM
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22 is basically right, and yet; I actually bought all the books in The Dark is Rising series some time after getting hooked on Harry Potter. I had enjoyed them as a kid, and wanted to see how they held up now, especially in light of the fact that I was reading and (at least some of the time) enjoying a new series of children's books. And though they are, in most ways, better written and more original, I didn't find them as satisfying as the best Harry Potter books. Rowling's prose is seldom better than serviceable, but she can be funny, something that doesn't really happen in The Dark is Rising. More importantly, this description of the books (from the list of contrasts with the movie) is accurate except for the fact that whoever wrote it seems to think it's a good thing:

Will is seen to be passive, though readers of the books know that going along with prophecies, figuring things out, being in the right place at the right time (especially important for an Old One, I should think), and most importantly, saying the right thing, is different from being passive.

The thing is, whatever saving grace the person who wrote this is trying to find, all the conflicts in the books are pretty much resolved by being in the right place at the right time--once that's the case, stuff just happens, events roll out according to predestined plan. Before that point there can be some nice atmosphere and so on, but little in the books' resolutions requires any sort of agency on the part of the characters. It's kind of weak, and not very dramatic, although I don't think I thought so at the time, for what that's worth.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 4:30 PM
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I don't think Beowulf was the king (wasn't that Hrothgar?)

Beowulf is king in his own country, at least by the end of the poem, when he goes off on his last hurrah with the dragon.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:10 PM
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At thirteen, Will gets disgusted at not being able to tell anyone. He blows up a car and acts out in some other ways. According to John Hodge, Miss Greythorne tells Merriman, "He's just expressing himself."

Puke.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:13 PM
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25,26,29:

In college, they played a porno at the local independent movie house... in 3-D. Everybody I knew saw it. It was... so... wrong.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:20 PM
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I think I saw that porno. It sucked. I don't think I had sex for a week after it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:24 PM
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In college, they played a porno at the local independent movie house... in 3-D. Everybody I knew saw it. It was... so... long.

They played that at my local art house when I was a lad, but I missed it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:25 PM
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In college, they played a porno at the local independent movie house... in 3-D. Everybody I knew saw it. It was... so... long.

They played that at my local art house when I was a lad, but I missed it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:25 PM
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w-lfs-n, if you delete 36 I promise to make Beowulf good.

I hear they filmed it in the original medieval 3-d? Gotta be better than that damn fresnel effect on the bayeux tapestry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:27 PM
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I don't actually care about making the movie any good, so, you know.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:38 PM
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I'll make you care!

Hm, that might have come out wrong.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:40 PM
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Was this the John Holmes one? I remember the tagline was "You'll duck when he faces the screen!"


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 5:55 PM
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wtf with 'the poem of the Norse'?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:00 PM
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Is "if you will" related to "as it were"?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:00 PM
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41: it was, allegedly, but he didn't have more than a cameo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:01 PM
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All I wanna know is, if I go see Beowulf in the theater, is that the same as reading the book?


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:03 PM
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wtf with 'the poem of the Norse'?

It doesn't say "the poem of the Norse"; it just says "the poem of Norse". You might say, "but Beowulf isn't a Norse poem". Well, so what?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:05 PM
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Ah, I missed the joke.

Having to have read swathes of Old English and swathes of Old Norse poetry in college I'm over sensitive to the difference.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:08 PM
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I here that Mel Gibson will play Beowulf in an Anglo-Saxon version. The hacking and hewing and the ravens pecking out people's eyes promise to be vivid.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:13 PM
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It's not the having to have read; it's the having to read.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 6:30 PM
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That looks terrible - too bad, because this one was quite lovely.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:32 PM
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Ttam was always already having to have to read.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:33 PM
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Link?


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:35 PM
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Ttam was always already having to have to ^have^ read.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:35 PM
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There we go.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:36 PM
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I knew you'd come back to me, John.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:36 PM
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I had the "nevermind this newfangled Harry Potter, back in the day we had the Dark is Rising, and that was much better" reaction, but was the Dark is Rising series really that good? I was curious about it when I heard there was going to be a movie, so I looked it over in a bookstore, and it struck me as kind of an absurd story.

I did love them as a kid, though. I even set out to learn Welsh.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:46 PM
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The best part about the changes in TDIR is they suggest a slow drift away from the plot of the books; we'll skip Greenwitch entirely (too much menstruation!), but by Silver on the Tree, if they get that far, it'll be entirely unrecognizable (but there will be wicked-ass explosions, I'd wager).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:46 PM
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Wow, neat. I was thinking I'd never heard of The Dark is Rising, then I looked at the wikipedia page and realized I'd read all of them. Got to say they don't stand out in my mind, but then I was always a hard SF guy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:50 PM
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Oh yeah, you the man, Tweety.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:52 PM
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The grumpy man with the shitty memory, you bet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:53 PM
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Wait, did you really think I was bragging when I said I had read X children's lit series and forgotten about it? Around this crowd?

Somewhat topically: I was talking to a friend today (the wife of a friend of my mom's, but I get along with her splendidly) who is a reasonably accomplished academic philosopher, and I was telling her about my new pretend internet friends and their love for Heidegger, and how I thought I had ought to give the man's work a browse. She looked at me doubtfully and said "Heideggerians? Oh dear. Bring a lifejacket." I'm pretty sure she was trying to be nice to me.

Later, in an effort to be helpful, she suggested (again doubtfully) that maybe I should find a course? Where they teach Heidegger? Since I don't read any German?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:58 PM
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So apparently all one needs to know about this Beowulf is that it a) is a Robert Zemeckis film and b) looks like a video game. What's Old English for 'no fucking way'?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:59 PM
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I was always a hard SF guy

See?

Most academic philosophers in America think Heidegger is nonsense.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 8:59 PM
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63: SF is full of hard guys, especially in the summer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 9:09 PM
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She didn't say anything about Heidegger being nonsense, but she's an admirer of Patricia Churchland, so who knows. I could probably converse more knowledgeably on it if I knew jack shit about Heidegger. Or, more generally, philosophy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 9:10 PM
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I just today downloaded an article called "Heidegger's phenomenology of boredom, and the scientific investigation of conscious experience". Apparently there's a whole journal devoted to phenomenology and cognitive science, called "Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences". The author doesn't cite the Churchlands, but does cite Dennett and Superintendent Chalmers.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 5-07 11:38 PM
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I read that as "Phrenology and the Cognitive Sciences".


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 7:49 AM
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Now there's your band name.


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:24 AM
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56: I read them in college, and wasn't blown away by them: as I sit here, I couldn't tell you much about what happened in them.

61: I gave that reading group a pretty fair effort, and I'd say there's not much point in giving Heidegger a browse. If you're really interested, take a class or something, but anyone capable of getting anything useful at all out of Being and Time without some serious assistance from people who are already pretty comfortable with Heidegger is... actually, I just can't picture what someone who could do that would be like. Unlike me is what they'd be like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:27 AM
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Doesn't he have significantly more accessible works? Introduction to Metaphysics, for example?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:32 AM
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I ask mostly because I read the first part of that, "The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics", and didn't find it inaccessible. And that's the only Heidegger I've ever read. And now I'm wondering if perhaps it all actually went over my head and I was just too thick to realize it.

It's about kittens, right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:35 AM
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I actually have no idea -- the first couple of chapters of Being and Time is all the Heidegger I've ever read, and also qualifies as the least comprehensible prose I've ever read.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:37 AM
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Hell with Beowulf; I want a movie of Grendel.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:48 AM
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Actually, I don't like The Dark is Rising too much, although Greenwitch is all right and so is Silver on the Tree. It has the paradigmatically-annoying "Why is the Dark dark? Because they're Dark, silly!" thing in spades, there's not too much plot, it's annoyingly moralizing, and there's the whole plot-coupon quality of those damned signs.

What's lastingly good about the books isn't the plot--or really, much of the characterization--it's the images. It's as if the book were constructed in order to connect a series of moments: when Will wakes up and the snow is blowing in; the still snowy day at the forge; the Walker attacked by ravens; the book that Will reads...

It's rather like fan fiction (which is more interesting--and more often badly written--than you imagine)...there are a series of moments strung together by plot, and the moments are important and the plot is incidental. The purpose of the book/story is to set those moments securely in place.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:53 AM
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66: that sounds like an odd, if interesting, combination. If that article is open-access, can you send me the url? If not, can you send me the article?

All I know about phenomenology I learned from an idiot philosophy 1 instructor at a community college (and this book she assigned), so I really, really, really have some catching up to do.

That said, the reconciliation of metaphysics and cognitive neuroscience sounds wicked boss, concept-wise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:54 AM
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Don't eat links, wordpress!

This book she assigned.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:55 AM
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74: Yeah, that's how I remember them -- a series of vignettes, not a story.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 8:56 AM
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74: I loved those books as a kid, but I'm guessing that's more or less how they'd read if I took a look at them now. There were always those awesome set pieces (the flood! the Hunter guy shows up! that spooky gray guy made of clouds!) but if I found the weak characterization and overdetermined narrative of the Harry Potter books grating, I think the Dark Is Rising would drive me nuts today. "Why are we doing this? Well, because the prophecy said so!"

Responding to this, from way way up thread:

Neil Gaiman wrote the screenplay for Beowulf.

Note, from the IMDB, that Neil Gaiman is not credited as the lone screenwriter for Beowulf. The other screenwriter is listed as Roger Avary, writer of Rules of Attraction, Silent Hill, and Mr. Stitch. As for Mr. Gaiman, as much as I love The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, I don't think absolutely everything the man's ever done has been a towering work of art - the man's gotta eat, and Sandman royalties only go so far, so I expect he takes a week or two out of his schedule to crank out early drafts of mediocre film adaptations now and then.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 9:23 AM
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I have fallen seriously out of love with Gaiman's writing.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 2:51 PM
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Really? I'm still quite fond. Do you mean you've re-evaluated stuff you used to like, or that you still like the stuff you used to like, but don't like whatever his most recent stuff is?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 2:54 PM
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I here that Mel Gibson will play Beowulf in an Anglo-Saxon version. The hacking and hewing and the ravens pecking out people's eyes promise to be vivid.

Ha, when I first saw the ads for The Beowulf Movie I thought "Awesome, it'll be great to have a movie in Old English with subtitles. Even if the movie turns out to be 300-style nonsense, I'll go see it.

Don't know why I assumed they would be persuading Ray Winstone and Angelina Jolie to speak their lines in Old English.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 2:58 PM
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78: Gaiman and Avary have been trying to get Beowulf made for over ten years, if memory serves. I agree that Gaiman has been pretty inconsistent for the past few years, and I have no idea whether Beowulf will be one of his better efforts (beyond the convincing stuff I saw and heard about at ComicCon last weekend, that is), but I know for certain that it isn't a quickie, phoned-in project.

The Gaiman project that I've been most disappointed in recently was 1602, a novel-length comic that transposes much of the Marvel universe to Elizabethan England. I was especially disappointed (1) because he's said that Marvel gave him more creative freedom on 1602 than he's ever had on any other comic (!); and (2) because, as a specialist in 17th-century lit., I was extra-super-duper-excited beforehand. Oh well.

Anyway, I stand by what I said before about Beowulf. I've seen enough to be encouraged, even given Gaiman's somewhat spotty recent track-record. That's not the same as saying that I can predict the future, of course.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 3:51 PM
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Oops. 82 was me.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 3:52 PM
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Really? I'm still quite fond [of Gaiman's writing]

Really? I stopped at American Gods. I enjoyed reading the book for all of the geeky references but, when I finished it I realized I had no desire to read any more by Gaiman.

It doesn't help that I have gradually found myself having less and less affection for the Sandman books. At some point I decided that they were just clever exercises in playing off familiar images/tropes but that the content didn't do anything for me. There are images that still resonate with me, Lucifer having Morpheus cut off his wings was worth far more than the price of admission but . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:02 PM
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I wasn't impressed by---what was it called, American Gods? The road trip book with all the Norse gods wreaking havok. It was okay, I guess, although I swear I've read two or three other books with exactly the same premise, but Jesus Christ the way people were wailing about how good it was annoyed the crap out of me. There was also a YA book about subterrean life (Underworld?) that was nice as far as it went, but just felt thin.

It's probably for the best that I haven't reread the Sandman comics since I was a teenager.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:05 PM
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Being a classy kind of guy, I thought I'd cut and paste the lame gag I made on another blog thread about Beowulf: The Video Game.

I'm in ur lair, killin' ur dam.

This film can't possibly be as silly as the Christopher Lambert movie.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:06 PM
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I think I might be a bit over-loyal to The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul to have really enjoyed American Gods.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:07 PM
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re: 82

As a specialist in the period, have you read any of Patricia Finney's Elizabethan novels? Curious if you have and have an opinion -- they're excellent novels, among the best historical fiction I've read -- but as someone with no specialist knowledge of the period, I have no real way of telling how accurate they are.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:11 PM
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re: 87

I quite enjoyed it (American Gods) but you're right. I have friend who raved about it, and just didn't get the love. As you say, it's not a new premise, and it was a decent but not amazing novel.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:14 PM
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That's about right -- good enough that I wanted to buy the next one, but not lifechanging. But I've started having trouble finding "Good enough that I want to buy the next one", so for me that counts as very fond.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:18 PM
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I reread Sandman a couple of years ago and it held up. I started American Gods a while back but couldn't finish it. The premise was good but I couldn't get into it. Then again, I did it on tape so maybe the long exposition was harder to get through in that medium, like Harry Potter.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:19 PM
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LB, I heartily recommend the Patricia Finney novels just mentioned. Firedrake's Eye, Glorianna's Torch, etc. They're historical thrillers but a literary cut above the average. Lots of clever and interesting narrative stuff happening [one is narrated by the split personality of a lunatic, another by the Virgin Mary from on-high, etc.]. She deserves wide recognition, imho.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:21 PM
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I read American Gods on the basis of someone here's rec., and it sucked. People saying otherwise are lying.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:24 PM
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87: I know what you mean--I have even more of an irrational affection for Douglas Adams than I do for Sandman--but I also think that American Gods thinks through the displaced-gods conceit in more interesting detail than Long Dark Tea-Time. I remember especially liking the idea that the gradual, modern disintegration of faith has left little room for wannabe-omniscient and -omnipotent gods. Not to mention the fact that American Gods introduces many other gods besides those of the Norse pantheon.

88: I haven't, ttaM, but thanks for the recommendation. I feel the same way about Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin novels. I love his understated writing and his insanely wide-ranging historical detail convinces me, but I just don't have the specialist knowledge of the Napoleonic Wars to know for sure.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:26 PM
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I started American Gods having read and loved Sandman, then I lost the book.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:34 PM
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Gaiman is, to me at least, consistently entertaining. He's not Shakespeare. He's actually a lot of fun to see in person -- I've been to a couple of readings he's done, and had a good time with them.

As an amusing anecdote, the second of the two readings I went to happened to be timed a day or two before the theatrical opening of Mirrormask, a rather underwhelming movie that Gaiman penned the script for. So at the beginning of the deal, Gaiman asks the room as a whole (at least 500 people) whether anyone was not planning on seeing Mirrormask in the next week or so.

Two hands go up: mine and some random woman's. She speaks up and overexplains that really, she's about to go on a trip and is super-busy. So Gaiman basically tells me (and, presumeably, some lying liars who just didn't raise their hands) to go see Mirrormask), because it's really good and we'll like it. I eventually caught it on DVD when my roommates purchased it. I didn't like it.

But, anyhow, overpraising mass-media "genre" works is a huge (and hugely annoying) geek phenomenom. In some of my past haunts, mild criticism of things like Underworld (which may be the worst major-release movie in the last decade) gets you shocked and angry debate, so it's no real suprise that Gaiman, who consistently produces work that has at least some merit, gets hailed as the second coming.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:41 PM
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88, 92 -- I'll look for them.

94: As historical fiction about the Napoleonic wars goes, did anyone else like the Sharpe's Rifles books? Aubrey/Maturin I was never thrilled with, although certainly worth reading.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:41 PM
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Sharpe's Rifles books?

Wooden characters, nicely plotted, indifferent prose, I thought. Do you know Fraser's Flashman? They're funny, and often unkind.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 4:52 PM
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The paperback edition of American Gods probably had the greatest combined quantity, effusiveness, and respectedness (that is, coming from respected people) of blurbs of any book ever written. I almost bought it for that reason alone, although I never buy novels and had never heard of the author.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 5:02 PM
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The book jacket quote that annoyed me most is "A moder day Catcher in the Rye" from Generation X.

Every time I looked at that quote it bothered me. It seemed so representative of the culture from which the characters feel alienated.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 5:15 PM
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s/b "A modern day Catcher In The Rye"


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 5:16 PM
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I can't remember the blurbs right now, but it looked like three of the five SF authors I had heard of wrote "This is the best, most original book I have read in decades". Just amazing stuff. Even Perdido Street Station's blurbs weren't as relentlessly insistent that the book was not just incredibly awesome and exciting but full of totally original and creative ideas.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 5:19 PM
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98: Grew up on Flashman, and still keep a fair amount of 19th C history straight by remembering how old he was when involved. You're absolutely right that the Sharpes books were wooden, but I still liked them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 6:58 PM
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Just to BALB, "no country for old men" actually referred to Ireland ("the young/in one anothers' arms, birds in the trees... the salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas... fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long" ) not Byzantium where Yeats longed to be instead.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 6:14 AM
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Also, I felt American Gods didn't quite come off, but liked Anansi Boys much more. Sample chapter.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 6:27 AM
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I liked both, but I thought Anansi Boys was stronger mostly because American Gods didn't quite deliver on its very cool concept (which seems to have been borrowed.)

Tried to get shivbunny to read American Gods and he got about halfway through and asked me if anything was ever going to happen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:36 AM
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Just popping back in to put in an extra plug for Gaiman's (and Dave McKean's) children's books. Wolves in the Walls and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish are really quite wonderful, and easily my favorite things Gaiman's ever done. I'd put them on par with Maurice Sendak's stuff, even.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:33 AM
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